“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then…” (Leviticus 26:3-4).
“But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments…” (Leviticus 26:14).
As a good father with his children, God communicates his expectations and he is clear about them. He even writes them down. He has rules and the rules have consequences. The consequences are both positive and negative, rewards for obedience and penalties for disobedience. God says “yes” as often as he says “no.” This doubles the motivation to do what is right and good.
With the rules and consequences, God starts small and builds. As the children of God obey, obedience will become a habit which will shape their character. God commands his children obey, not for his pleasure, but for theirs.
The consequences are not threats, they are promises. Threats are intentions, promises are a sure thing. God let the Israelites know he will follow through. Now that the Israelites know what their actions will produce, both good and bad, they are responsible for the consequences, not God.
And they will mess up, a lot, but this does not take God by surprise. He blends hope into his rules. Confession, repentance, and making amends are avenues of grace and even more important than the rules.
That is good parenting.
Heavenly Father, You are the Creator of all things. You are God. I am not, but You did create me in Your image. Within me is a knowledge of You. I have eternity in my heart. I know You, and I know what is right and wrong, what is good and evil.
Why I choose not to follow You, not to listen to You, when the consequences are terrible, I can’t explain. But I do. Thank You for sending Your Son to live on earth, to show us what it looks like to live rightly, to show us You and Your ways, to make restoration possible. May I follow You, may I be like You, may I listen to You my Father in heaven.